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Daily Rhythm

Having a strong rhythm to your day helps your day go more smoothly and more enjoyably for you and for your kids. Every teacher and daycare provider knows this, because if they don’t have a strong rhythm, everything turns into mayhem! But for parents, it can be much harder to see the benefits of the work it takes to establish a rhythm. Many parents kind of limp along, not enjoying their days but making it through. I had one family with a 3 1/2 year old boy, and the parents complained about how strong-willed and stubborn he was. When I tried to suggest that rhythm would make their lives easier, they only saw it as limiting and constraining. As a result, they spent a lot of time ‘convincing’ their son that it was time to do this or that. Then they visited a brother and sister-in-law with three children, and a strong routine. Their son fell into this other family’s rhythm without a peep. Suddenly he went from being contentious at every turn, to being easygoing and go-with-the-flow. They could hardly believe it! They came back from vacation raving about their experience, and determined to set up rhythms in their own home. But how does one go about getting started on something like that?
Anchor Points

If you’re just working to create rhythm, start with your ‘anchor points.’ The anchor points of rhythm are sleeping and eating. Be aware that these are the anchors of your day, and do your best to have them be as regular as possible. For example, it can be tempting to push naptime back if your child doesn’t seem sleepy and you could just swing by the post-office on the way home from the grocery store…but try to resist the impulse. The more regular you are with naptimes and bedtimes, the more your child’s rhythms will ‘set’ to those times, and the easier it will be to get him down. Same with meals! Another anchor point in your day should be going outside together, to play in the yard, take a walk, or go to the park. Morning is the best time
for this, as kids have lots of big energy in the morning. So try and make going outside every morning part of your routine. If you have a high-energy kid, go outside in the afternoon as well.

Next, think about the beginning and end of each anchor point. The more you can set up little rituals (doing things the same way each time), the stronger your rhythm will be. So for instance, you might take five minutes whenever he wakes up to sit with him in a cozy spot and snuggle with him and brush his hair, then go straight to the table for a snack. If he’s not hungry right upon waking, you could get dressed first. Some kids do best eating right away or they get grumpy, some kids wake up more slowly. But whatever you do, do it as regularly as possible.
Third, incorporate songs and nursery rhymes into your rhythm. Children love knowing how things go, and having a certain song that’s associated with a certain activity can let your child know exactly
where things are at. You don’t have to have a great singing voice; they will love it no matter what! So, give it some thought. You might say rhythmically, “Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross to see what dear Alex will buy…A penny white bun and a penny white cake, and a two-penny apple pie” whenever it’s time to go to the table for meal or a snack. You might say, “Shoe a little horse! Shoe a little mare! But little Stephie’s feet go bare-bare-bare! No…(shake your head)…where ARE your shoes?” every time it’s time to get shoes on. You might make up a little song for getting dressed in the morning, to the tune of “The Farmer In the Dell:” “One arm in the hole, the other arm in the hole, then your head goes in the hole and now you have your shirt!” Then pants, then socks, etc. Make up your own words to any tune you know, but sing them the same every time you do it, and your children will feel secure that they know how things go. One great resource for songs and rhymes like these is the book/cd combo “Sing A Song With Baby,” available here.


One Sample Day
So, if you just start with those pieces, you’re well on your way to having a solid rhythm going. Eventually, your day might look something like this:
You hear him stirring, and you walk into his room, singing softly: “good morning, good morning, good morning dear Alex.” You pick him up and say, “Hi, sleepy-head! Did you have a good sleep?” Take him
downstairs and pick up his brush, then sit in your special chair and brush his hair. After a few minutes, take him to the kitchen, saying “Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross….” and put him in his chair, getting him some
breakfast. After breakfast, get dressed together, then come downstairs and get shoes and jacket on and go straight outside for at least half an hour, but preferably more like an hour. If you have a high-energy kid, go on a 15-20 minute walk around your neighborhood, having your child run from one ‘station’ to the next: “OK, the next station will be the fire hydrant. Ready, Steady, Go!!!!” Then he has to stay touching the fire hydrant until you arrive, and tell him the next one. After outdoor play, have a little snack (outside if the weather is nice) and get into the car and run whatever errands you have that day. Come back home and eat a hearty lunch, then do some quiet housework together, washing the breakfast and lunch dishes, folding the laundry, etc. until it’s time for nap. During naptime either nap with him, or make your phone calls and do your computer work, as these are things that it’s hard for kids to tolerate much of. After nap you brush his hair and give him a snack, then let him play while you’re doing your own things that you can stop-and-start (paying bills, checking email, etc.). You check in and out with him as he needs, being able to put down whatever you’re doing for a few minutes to play peekaboo one time, read a story another time, always being available, but always being drawn back to your tasks. When you can tell he needs more than just a minute or two of interaction, put aside your work and spend 15-30 minutes doing some sort of activity with him: coloring, baking, going outside again if the weather is nice. Come back in and have another snack if needed, then start getting the dinnertime meal ready, talking to him and interacting with him as you do, giving him
nibbles of things, or just letting him play on his own if he wishes. Dad comes home, spends a little time unwinding, and the three of you eat dinner together. After dinner you and baby, or dad and baby, head upstairs for a bath, then put on pajamas, brush teeth, and dad comes up to read a story and tuck him in. Sleep tight!



Extra Tips
Think about the non-kid-activities you have during the day, and how to weave them in most successfully. Try running errands in the morning when he has lots of energy, but after outside play so he’s already gotten to run alot. Make your phone calls while he’s sleeping, because it’s hard for kids to have attention away from them for so long. Do your desk-work in the afternoons while he’s happy to play
quietly while you’re around, and can pay him attention as needed. Afternoons are also a nice time for household chores, if you can save your desk-work for after he’s in bed. If you do the same sorts of
tasks in the same parts of the day, your son will start knowing that that’s how it goes, and everything can go that much more smoothly. Now, it might be that your son doesn’t do well running errands in the morning, because he needs to be more physically active then. Maybe he does better in the afternoons. But maybe he doesn’t do so well in the afternoons, because he needs quiet space and to not feel rushed. You
will have to figure out what is best for you and your kids. Enjoy!



Warmly,
Miss Faith

Comments

  1. Stephanie says:

    I just stumbled upon the Waldorf Education today, which led me to your blog. I love it so much! The ideas given here are wonderful and I am going to start our rhythm today just as soon as my boys wake from their nap!

    Thank you Miss Faith for offering up this great way of life!

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